I was about ready to say this episode was a bit of a step down from the last few, but the last five minutes were crackerjack stuff. And frankly even its B-game is enough to keep Kekkai Sensen solidly in the upper echelon of 2015 anime, because this series always has something going on to appeal to the senses. I love the freakishly imaginative stuff going on in the background, the freakishly beautiful backgrounds themselves, and the freakishly great soundtrack. That soundtrack… The insert songs are all over the map stylistically (this week saw an entry into the folk-rock category) but all stellar, and the BGM is the best of any series this season (I especially love when BBB busts out the FLCL-style BGM, as it did in thew A-Part of this ep, which was the most FLCL-influenced since the premiere). I dare say even Watanabe Shinichiorou would be hard-pressed to produce with a better soundtrack.
Another thing that’s exceptional about Blood Blockade Battlefront is the fact that the anime-original material is some of the most interesting in the series, a testament to the sterling creative staff BONES has assembled here. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the White/Black subplot is actually more interesting to me than the main plot – though the evidence is increasing that the two are heavily interconnected. The only real downside for me is that Kugimiya Rie’s performance as Black is pretty much indistinguishable from her White, which does tend to take one out of the moment a bit.
That’s especially noticeable this week as the focus is fully on Black, with White not even having a speaking role. There’s a lot going on with him that just doesn’t add up yet, presumably something along the lines of a split personality or double-identity – the latter possibility seemingly indicating his seeming friendliness towards Leo is an act, perhaps to get his hands on Leo’s power. Still, as with White, Leo’s conversations with Black have a real innocent charm to them. Leo finally asks Black what’s wrong with White, and Black replies the problem with her heart – and when Leo mentions White’s penchant for calling herself a “ghost”, Black looks like he’s seen one. And Leo confides to Black
White’s Michaela’s previously unheard of nickname for him – “Tortoise Knight”, which I assume to be a reference to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which featured a character called Leonardo). That would certainly synch with the show’s obvious love affair with American comics and cartoons.
After the Leo-Black intro, the plot shifts to what looks like a one-off diversion – albeit an entertaining one – but reveals itself to be rather more that that. Zapp’s continual attempts to get the jump on Klaus strike me as an homage to the old Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers, where his manservant “Cato” continually tried to kill Inspector Clouseau, and they’re every bit as absurdly hilarious here. The depths to which Zapp will go to try and gain the upper hand are seemingly revealed when he lures Klaus (with Leonardo in tow) to an underground fight club with an SOS call, pleading for assistance.
Upon arrival, Klaus quickly ends up in the ring – as Zapp watches backstage with the boss, Ozmaldo (Tachiki Fumihiko, the latest seiyuu legend to join BBB’s seemingly endless roster of them). Klaus proves to be quite the sensation, unsurprisingly wiping the floor with every freakish extra-dimensional the club can throw at him, and really getting into the swing of things. Eventually Ozmaldo jumps into the ring himself, which the Ringmaster (Takagi Wataru – blah blah, seiyuuu legend, etc.) tells him means the winner gets ownership of the club itself. This proves to be a hell of a fight, but the important part is what happens after Klaus literally knocks Ozmaldo’s head off – turns out the gargantuan extra-dimensional is actually a shell, a dead body taken over by a ghoulish little vampire Elder. And while it seems Zapp didn’t know about that part, he apparently set the whole ruse up to soften up Klaus so he could finally kick his ass (this, of course, fails miserably).
As I’ve said on more than one occasion, the plot for Kekkai Sensen hasn’t really come together yet – but it’s definitely getting more interesting. And the overall narrative style here is so free-form – like a jazz performance built on improvizing around a simple melody – that the loose tangle of plot threads pretty much works. What’s going on with these Elders anyway – and how exactly is Black connected with them? We don’t know what he is exactly, but he’s certainly an esper at the very least, and definitely connected with Femt. But there are strong indications that his “childhood” with White isn’t a complete fabrication, and his feeling for her – and even Leo – seems genuine. It’s all up to speculation for now, but the style factor is so off the charts and the characters so fantastic that what we’re getting in terms of plot is plenty compelling enough to close the sale.